Coronavirus shadow on Holi: President Kovind, PM Modi to skip celebrations

Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba is monitoring the situation while holding video-conferences with the state officials for coordinated actions against the virus’ spread. 

Published: 05th March 2020 02:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2020 11:28 AM   |  A+A-

A German tourist undergoes screening on Jammu-Pathankot National Highway at Lakhanpur on Wednesday in wake of the deadly novel coronavirus spread | PTI

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The spread of novel coronavirus has cast its shadow on Holi celebrations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda, saying that they would not attend any Holi Milan functions.

Rashtrapati Bhavan will also not be holding the traditional Holi gatherings as a precautionary measure, the President’s office tweeted on Wednesday.

“With alertness and safeguards, we all can help contain the outbreak of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. In a precautionary measure, the Rashtrapati Bhavan will not hold the traditional Holi gatherings,” the President’s office said.

The Union Cabinet meeting, chaired by the PM, also took stock of the spread of the coronavirus. Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba is monitoring the situation while holding video-conferences with the state officials for coordinated actions against the virus’ spread. 

“Experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Hence I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme,” Modi tweeted.

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, while briefing reporters about the Cabinet decisions, said that the situations emerging out of the spread of the virus is being minutely monitored.

“The PM is monitoring the situation daily. Open borders with Nepal and Bhutan are closely monitored, with the screening of 10 lakh people so far. Fifteen more pathological labs have been set up, while another 19 will soon begin operating in the country,” said Javadekar.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath also tweeted that he will also be staying away from Holi celebrations.  

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also announced that he will not be celebrating the festival of colours along with other cabinet ministers.

“I will not be celebrating Holi because of the riots that took place and this (Coronavirus). People are still in pain that is why neither I nor other ministers will celebrate” said Kejriwal.   

Rs 6 crore for two special flights

Air India has footed a bill of around Rs 6 crore for the two special flights it operated for evacuating Indians stranded amid the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the ministry said on Wednesday.

“Air India has raised a bill of Rs 5,98,90,352 for operating two special flights to China. An Indian Air Force flight carrying relief material to China also carried Indian citizens from Wuhan, China, on its return journey. Expenditure details are yet to be received from the Ministry of Defence. Expenditure details for the special flight — Japan to India — for evacuation is yet to be received from Air India,” the ministry said in Parliament on Wednesday.

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Italian tourists and their Indian guide were sent to a quarantine facility in Madhya Pradesh

Railway hospital to have isolation wards

The Indian Railways has issued directives to all its chief medical officers and said that every divisional, sub-divisional hospital of the zones should have isolation wards on their premises

No re-booking charges: AI Express

Air India’s international budget arm Air India Express said it will not charge any fee on re-booking of tickets for passengers travelling to Kuwait between March 8 and 15 following fresh instructions by the Kuwaiti government

Testing facility for Indians in Iran

India intends to set up a laboratory in Iran so that Indians there can be tested for possible exposure to novel coronavirus before being brought back. The Iranian government has not yet given permission for it.

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